DOWNTOWN—After a Request for Qualifications was issued in April, Georgia state officials have selected a familiar development team to transform the 11-acre Home Depot Backyard into a new entertainment district in the shadow of Mercedes-Benz Stadium and the Signia by Hilton Atlanta hotel tower. As the Atlanta Business Chronicle reports, that team includes often controversial Atlanta development firm Fuqua Development, local investment and development company Pope and Land Real Estate, and Minneapolis-headquartered architects Nelson Worldwide.

Exactly what the project might entail—and what it might cost—has yet to be determined, apart from the RFQ specifying it could span up to 250,000 square feet. But as the ABC points out, the development team selected by the Georgia World Congress Center Authority previously built a mixed-use entertainment hub that’s familiar to most Atlantans and could lend a preview as to what’s bound for downtown: The Battery Atlanta district surrounding the Braves’ Truist Park. Nelson Worldwide, the selected designers, have also drawn up plans for the Medley district in Johns Creek and a made-from-scratch new town proposal near Cumming.

The Home Depot Backyard space, as it appeared prior to opening in summer 2018. Josh Green/Urbanize Atlanta

No timeline for the Backyard’s redevelopment has been specified. But if the expeditious, month-long RFQ process was any indication, time could be of the essence. (Atlanta’s 2026 FIFA World Cup matches are now less than two years away, with the first contest scheduled for June 15 that year.) The goal, according to an earlier GWCCA statement, is to create a “seamless integration” of entertainment venues, convention center buildings, and greenspace on the westernmost fringe of downtown.

Since it opened six years ago, the hybrid Backyard greenspace has been used for tailgating during large events such as Atlanta Falcons and United games, and also for community gatherings, including summer movie nights and free yoga. It was created in the footprint of the Georgia Dome—a crushed layer of the old stadium, several feet thick, lies beneath the Backyard’s grasses to help with irrigation, in fact—and was billed from its conception as a park space for uplifting Westside communities.

Atlanta United supporters shown between The Benz and new Signia hotel while under construction. Josh Green/Urbanize Atlanta

DOWNTOWN—In other recent downtown news, the original World of Coca-Cola museum facility has met its maker about a block from the Georgia State Capitol along Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, having sat vacant since Coke took its worldly, syrupy goodness to Centennial Olympic Park back in 2007.

As the Associated Press reports, state officials bought the facility (once Atlanta’s most-visited indoor attraction) from Coke for $1 million two decades ago. To the chagrin of ATL urbanists, plans call for using the former museum site as a surface parking lot to make up for the current Georgia Capitol complex’s surface parking that’s being lost to construction staging as the Gold Dome embarks on a $392-million expansion over the next two years. The schedule calls for having the old World of Coke entirely wiped away by early August.

CITYWIDE—Tune in this week to WABE, Atlanta’s NPR member station, as Urbanize Atlanta’s editor joins host Rose Scott on her “Closer Look” program and generally tries not to sound like an idiot on the airwaves (again). Topics will include urban design, current projects of major importance, development trends, and a general love for the great, unique, flawed city we call home. [UPDATE: 4:09 p.m., June 18: The WABE interview airs again at 7 p.m. today and will be available online after that.]


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